Sun and Daniels, ‘Externality Entrepreneurism’

The way that economists have taught us to think about externalities — asking us to identify, measure, and internalize them — while useful, has created a substantial blind spot. According to economic thinking, the law ought to incentivize or force those who create externalities to internalize them. Yet, internalizing externalities is just one way of many that externalities shape law and politics: legal and political actors frequently employ externalities to galvanize or oppose change by strategically identifying, selecting, framing, and promoting externalities. These actors exaggerate and highlight different externalities with the aim of capturing the attention of individuals, the media, networks of interest groups, and ultimately legal and political decisionmakers. We call those who use externalities this way ‘externality entrepreneurs’. Externality entrepreneurism is prevalent in all levels and branches of government and in almost every area of law and policy, yet it is completely unexplored in existing scholarship. This Article seeks to remedy that neglect and begin the broader conversation about this vitally important lens. Because externality entrepreneurism is so ubiquitous and universal, understanding it is critical not only for those who wish to create change in our political and legal institutions but also for those who wish to more fully understand and evaluate the mechanisms by which such change occurs.

Sun, Lisa Grow and Daniels, Brigham, Externality Entrepreneurism (February 23, 2016). BYU Law Research Paper No 16-03.

First posted 2016-03-09 14:38:22

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